Indy Film Fest



Melanie Woods Guest post by  Melanie Woods
Bio: Comm/marketing pro. Indy-ophile. Colts junkie. Art addict. Movie collection ranges from Harry Potter to City of God.

"The Show Must Go On"

On June 15, the world watched as Nik Wallenda, a member of the famous Flying Wallenda family, became the first person to walk across the Niagara Falls on a high wire. I didn’t catch it live, but watching the video footage later I kept thinking, “This guy’s insane.” However, after viewing Paula Froehle’s fascinating documentary “The Show Must Go On,” I have a better understanding of what motivates this family to walk the tightrope.

The documentary follows Tino Wallenda and his family as they practice and perform their high wire act across the country. The family’s rich history includes seven generations who have walked the wire. Most notorious was Karl Wallenda, who created awe-inspiring acts involving handstands, bicycles and multi-level pyramids. Karl was famous for performing his daredevil acts without a net. At age 73, he fell to his death while walking across a high wire in Puerto Rico. The footage of his death is included in the documentary and was pretty disturbing to watch.

After seeing Karl’s death and learning about another fall in the 1960s that claimed two lives and left one paralyzed, you have to wonder how they keep doing it. How can this family keep getting back up on the high wire? But it’s all they know and it’s what bonds them. They love performing together and bringing joy to audiences everywhere. As Alida Wallenda Cortes observes, “Life doesn’t end in a tragedy always. You have to rise above and continue on.”

During each performance of the amazing seven-person pyramid, I found myself tightening my body as if trying to help them stay balanced. I held my breath until they made it safely across the wire. This same pressure is felt by Tino, who talks at length about the risks involved and the potential loss of life. The youngest generations of Wallendas say they will keep performing as long as they can, but you have to wonder at what cost.

The Show Must Go On
Paula Froehle 2012
Categories: Matter of Fact Features

View the trailer:

"The Greatest Return"

Froehle’s work is paired with a second documentary, “The Greatest Return,” by Matt Mays. In his film, Mays profiles five legendary conservationists:

-  Dr. Carl Safina, explorer of the ever-changing ocean and its effect on wildlife and people.
-  Dr. Laurie Marker, affectionately known by farmers in Namibia as “The Cheetah Lady.”
-  Dr. Gerado Ceballos, a champion of Mexico’s first protected species act.
-  Dr. Rodney Jackson, the first to capture images of snow leopards in their natural environment.
-  Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants in Africa.

The documentary spends time with each conservationist as they discuss their respective works of research. It’s clear they are all very passionate and dedicated to preserving natural life, with a few even getting emotional as they discuss why they do what they do. The common theme weaving throughout their stories: conservationism is all about learning to be a good neighbor and maintaining a sustainable, functioning ecosystem.

The profiles are bookended with highlights from the 2010 Indianapolis Prize Gala, where all five were honored as finalists. The Indianapolis Prize is given every two years to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to conservation efforts.

Admittedly, conservation can be a controversial topic, so this documentary may not be for everyone. Regardless of where you fall on the issue, you can’t deny that the energy and enthusiasm each conservationist has for their respective causes is inspiring. And as an added bonus, the documentary is full of beautiful, vibrant scenery from around the world.

The Greatest Return

Matt Mays 2011
Categories: Matter of Fact Shorts

View the trailer:

The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!

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